The road to the NBA Finals goes through Milwaukee. And the Bucks are the first team in the league to know exactly where they will be seeded for the playoffs.
Milwaukee’s win over Philadelphia on Thursday night clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and ensured that the Bucks will have home-court advantage for the entirety of the playoffs. It doesn’t guarantee anything, of course, but the No. 1 seed has made the East finals in 16 of the last 19 seasons.
“It’s not just about Game 7. It’s about having the first two games at home,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Our guys have worked hard this year to earn that, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot at the end of the day when the playoffs start.”
Toronto is now locked in as the No. 2 seed in the East, and still could finish as the No. 2 seed in the entire NBA — which would give the Raptors the home-court edge in the NBA Finals if they got there.
No other seeds are clinched. Philadelphia will almost certainly be No. 3, but that’s not secure.
It could play a role in which teams get the last three open spots. Milwaukee plays Brooklyn on Saturday, a big game for the Nets and meaningless for the Bucks. Toronto plays Miami on Sunday, big for the Heat, and perhaps meaningless for the Raptors. If Philadelphia has the No. 3 seed clinched by Tuesday, that could help the Heat out in Dwyane Wade’s last home game.